If you’ve just been in an accident, or were recently involved in one, you may be unsure whether you should contact your insurance company, or the insurance provider of the other person.
You may also be in a position where someone hit your car and fled the scene. In this case, you may be wondering whether your insurance company will pay out for your damages.
There are a few key pieces of information that you’ll need in either of these instances.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about who to call and what steps to take when someone has hit your car.
What Should You Do If Someone Hits Your Car?
When a car accident happens, it’s natural to panic to some extent.
In this situation, it’s important to keep a cool head and take the right steps to ensure everyone’s safety, while making sure that the relevant authorities and insurers are contacted.
Call emergency services – 911
First, check to see that everyone is safe and unharmed. If you or your passengers have been injured in any way, first contact emergency services to assist you, before contacting any insurance company.
Get the car out of the road
If someone hits your car while you are driving, or it’s in a parking space, try to get the car out of the road if you can still drive it.
Should the car not be drivable, but you are unharmed, place your reflective triangles (you are required to have three in your car) as follows:
- The first triangle needs to be placed 100ft in front of your vehicle or the scene of the accident.
- The second triangle needs to be placed 100ft behind your vehicle or the scene of the accident.
- The last triangle needs to be placed 10ft behind the vehicle or scene of the accident on the traffic side of the incident.
You should also switch on your hazard lights if they are still working.
These warnings ensure that other drivers on the road can navigate safely around the scene of the accident so that no one else gets hurt.
Ask for witnesses
If someone has hit your parked car, but has fled the scene before you arrived to see it, ask if anyone in the area witnessed the incident.
Document the accident
If someone has hit your car and you are both there after the accident, you will need the following information to give the police when you file your report:
- Name of the other driver.
- License plate numbers.
- Details of the car such as make, model, and color.
- Date and time of the accident.
- Contact details of the other driver and any witnesses.
- Insurance information of the other driver.
- Photographs of the cars and damage.
- A diagram of the incident.
You will also need this information for your insurance company.
If you arrive back at your car only to find that someone has hit your stationary vehicle and left the scene without leaving their details behind, or if you have experienced a hit-and-run accident while driving, you will need the following information:
- Date of the incident.
- Contact details of any witnesses.
- Time of the incident—or an approximate time if your car was parked and you weren’t there.
- Photographs of the car and damage.
- Diagram of the incident including the location of the cars involved, and the damage caused. You will need to draw this diagram.
Should You Admit Fault at the Scene of an Accident?
You should never admit fault after an accident or discuss the details of what took place with the other driver. This protects you legally and avoids arguments and hearsay.
Contact your insurance company
Irrespective of who caused the collision, or what actually happened, you should always contact with your own insurance company after an accident.
Even if the damages seem minor, it is always necessary to lodge the incident with your car insurance company.
Your insurance company may be able to help you with roadside assistance, like if your car needs to be towed.
Will Your Auto Insurance Company Pay If Someone Hits Your Car?
If another driver hits your vehicle, your car insurance company will only reimburse you for damages if you carry collision insurance or uninsured motorist coverage.
If you just have liability coverage in place, you will need to pay for damages to your own car out of your pocket.
Auto liability coverage will cover the cost for repairs to the other driver if you are the at-fault driver in the accident.
If the accident is not your fault, the other driver’s insurance company will pay for your damages under auto liability coverage.
Let’s take a brief look at the differences between auto liability coverage, collision, and uninsured motorist insurance:
Auto liability coverage
Typically, liability coverage includes bodily injury liability insurance and property damage liability insurance.
Liability coverage is an essential type of insurance that protects you financially if you are found to be at-fault in a car accident.
While bodily injury liability insurance will pay for the medical expenses of the other driver and his or her passengers, property damage coverage will cover the repairs to their vehicle.
In some cases, liability insurance will cover the other driver and their passengers’ wages lost due to injury, as well as any legal defense costs if you are sued.
Each state in the U.S. has its own minimum liability insurance coverage amounts that you need to purchase in order to legally drive.
Your insurance company will provide you with the details of what this cover should be in your state.
Most insurance companies will list your liability insurance on the car insurance policy’s declaration page. This coverage will be listed with slash marks, or split limits, such as 50/100/10.
That may look confusing, but it just means that you have:
- $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person.
- $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident.
- $50,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident.
This coverage is provided by your insurance company at an additional cost to cover any damage to your car from a collision with another object.
In addition to covering your repairs after a car accident—regardless of who is at fault—this coverage will pay for damage to your car if you collide with a telephone pole, guard rail, etc.
Uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage
This optional coverage protects you financially if you are involved in a hit-and-run car accident and cannot contact the other driver’s insurance.
It also covers the cost of repairs to your vehicle if the other driver does not have enough liability insurance in place, or has no insurance at all.
What Should You Do If the Other Driver Is Uninsured?
Nearly every state in the U.S. requires drivers to have a minimum amount of car insurance in order to drive legally. However, roughly one in every eight drivers doesn’t have this coverage.
If you do get into an accident with an uninsured driver, be sure to call the police immediately so that they can file a report of the accident.
This will create a record of the details of the accident which will help you get reimbursed.
Even if the driver has no insurance, be sure to get his or her contact details, as well as the details of the car that they were driving.
It’s also important to get the contact information of any witnesses who were around at the time of the accident.
Once you have spoken to the police, and obtained the details of the other driver and any witnesses, as well as taken the steps that we outlined at the beginning of this article, call your insurance company.
You will need to tell your own insurer that you were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Your insurance adjuster will know how to advise you and handle the claims process.
If you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, or collision coverage, you will be able to sue the uninsured driver for damages.
What Is an Insurance Adjuster?
Another name for an insurance adjuster is a claims adjuster. An insurance adjuster investigates insurance claims to determine how much the insurance company is liable to pay out in the event of a claim.
Should You Contact Your Insurance Company If the Damage Is Minor?
Although it’s not a legal requirement for you to tell your insurance company if your car has been hit and the damage has been minor, such a decision could be a mistake.
There are some definite drawbacks to not disclosing an accident with your insurer and for covering minor damages yourself.
Car repairs can be more expensive than you initially anticipate, and can take longer than you would normally expect.
If the other driver does not have insurance, or if they deny responsibility and report you as the at-fault driver, this will mean that you will need to pay for medical and repair costs.
It’s even possible that the other driver could sue you for damages. This is why it’s always important to file a police report after an accident and submit it to your insurer.
Even if you decide to cover the cost of the damage yourself—by letting your insurer know about the incident, you will be protecting yourself from a potentially unscrupulous, dishonest driver.
When Is It Best to File a Claim and When Is It Best to Pay Out of Your Pocket?
If you have collision coverage and uninsured motorist insurance, it may seem strange that you would elect to pay for any repairs to your vehicle yourself.
If the damage is minor and costs less than the amount that you have set as your deductible, it may be quicker, easier, and cheaper to simply write a check for the repair costs rather than file an insurance claim.
However, experts do warn against doing this. In the first instance, your repairer may come back and inform you of other damage that you might not have noticed since it wasn’t cosmetic in nature.
In the second instance, by filing a police accident report and an insurance claim, you create a record of what happened. This means that you protect yourself legally from being sued later.
Key Point: What Is a Deductible?
When you submit an insurance claim, your deductible is the amount of money that you will need to pay out of pocket before your insurer will pay for the cost to repair your vehicle.
For example, if you get into a car crash and submit an insurance claim for $6,000, and you have a deductible of $500—your insurance company will pay out $5,500 and you will contribute $500 to the repair costs.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are the victim or cause of a car crash, immediately contacting your own insurance provider and filing a claim is the best way to protect yourself and your wallet.
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